Lessons From A Long Distance Relationship

A few years ago, I went out to Tucson, AZ to visit my younger brother. While there, I met this beautiful girl.

She wasn’t just beautiful, but she had this perfect mix of goofy and weird in her personality to really “get” my jokes. She also lived life unconventionally, which I dig about any human being – she was pursuing her dream to become a professional dancer.

After I left, we continued to stay in touch. And the next thing I knew, I had a girlfriend who lived 2,000 miles and a few time zones away.

Over the past few years we’ve really been able to make this long distance thing work, and have learned a lot along the way. As we are only months away from finally living in the same city, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned, and not necessarily only about relationships, but about living life.

You Create Your Life

When Kelsey and I first started dating, it bothered both of us to hear the scoffs and skepticism from some friends and family members awaiting our relationship to crash and burn.

How could we blame them though? The skepticism and hesitation they felt around long distance relationships was shaped by their own perceptions and experiences. So in a way, when they said that “it probably won’t work out” they were right. It probably wouldn’t work out for them.

The worst thing you can do is accept other’s self-limiting beliefs and rules about life as your own.

My favorite author, Napoleon Hill writes, “Whatever the mind can conceive and belief, then it can achieve.” My favorite actor, Will Smith frequently echoes Confucius in interviews when he says “He who says he can, and he who says he can’t are both usually right.”

You and only you decide what is possible for your life.

Work In Sprints

Jim Schwartz is an author and coach who works with athletes, business executives, and others to maximize their energy and productivity. His book, Be Excellent at Anything talks about “working in waves.”

Working in waves is essentially working for short, intense periods of time and then resting and relaxing for periods of time.

I was fortunate to have a job that allowed me some flexibility, but I really grew to really like our long distance relationship setup.

I would grind as a personal trainer for three weeks, and then take a week off to go see Kels.

This allowed me to be completely focused on work, save up some cash, and do a great job of delivering quality workouts to my clients. Then I’d go see Kelsey, and be completely present and in the moment when I was with her. Checking out mentally from work allowed me to focus and relax which gave me the ability to have a lot more fun and connect with her in a deeper way.

Try this throughout your day – work for short, intense bursts (no more than 4 hours says Schwartz) then go take a walk, exercise, take a nap, have sex, meditate, play a game, or chill and laugh with friends. You’ll be more productive, less stressed, and more energized day after day.

There’s always more

My sister Jill always often writes, “There’s more where there that came from.”

She talks about having an “abundance mindset.” This means having a feeling that there’s enough to go around: Enough money, enough ideas, enough success, etc.

That feeling of scarcity or “not enough” energetically shuts you down to opportunities. It freezes your body from taking action and it shuts off your mind from ideas.

Buying a $400 plane ticket definitely put us in a scarcity mindset. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I can’t afford my car payment next month?

In hindsight, I always made that money back, I was never late on my payments, and it’s worked out just fine with Kels. But it took a lot of practice to just trust that everything would be okay. Besides, if I didn’t use that $400 towards a plane ticket, I would’ve just had an abundance of Chipotle, movie theater popcorn, and new basketball shoes.

Don’t Be Afraid of Failure

There is nothing that makes me more upset than my friends saying “I can’t do X because what if it doesn’t work out?”

It actually makes me angry.

So let me get this straight.. You’re not going to try to open yourself up and make a relationship work because you might get hurt? You’re not going to try to start a business because it might fail? You’re not going to try something new because you might not be very good at it?

Don’t they realize that if they don’t even try it then they’re guaranteed to fail?! I feel like Mugatu…

It’s a win-win situation. You either succeed or you learn. Yeah, this long distance thing could have been terrible, but then I would have learned some things for my next relationship. But since we tried, it’s ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

And that’s what life is all about: Experiences.

It’s like when I dipped out and went to Australia for a week with my sister. The first question people asked me was “Well won’t you be missing classes?”

Of course I’m going to miss classes! But you’re missing Australia.

I’m not going to be on my deathbed like “Damn, I really wish I attended more chemistry classes at school.”

No, I won’t. I’m going to be like “Damn, I’m so glad I went all-in on that long-distance relationship with Kelsey.”




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  1. Pingback: The H.E.A.R.T Model - Danny Coleman

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